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A Boat Launching

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Old 04-24-2008, 02:33 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 841
Default A Boat Launching

Mention was made of the Spirit of Peoria the other day. Her launching was a sight to behold.

It was a bright and cold February afternoon. The boat was resting at the crest of the Tennessee River bank. There were no ways, but the bank was frozen. It had been graded to a more or less uniform slope by bulldozers the day before. The windows and doors of the unfinished cabin were blocked with sheets of plywood and a long grass line was tied to a temporary shackle welded to the stempiece and tied off to the capstan of the big towboat Joey Chotin.

The planned operation was simplicity personified. On signal the towboat backed toward the far shore. The Spirit inched toward the break at the crest of the bank as the towboat backed. When the center of gravity passed that crest the boat toppled over the bank and lit out for the river like a scalded dog. It shot down the bank and entered the Tennessee bow-first.

The bow went under. The temporary plywood was blasted inboard as it it were tissue paper, and water filled the cabin to about two or three feet deep.
The towboat stopped, as well as about forty observers' hearts, when the boat took a sharp sheer to the left and heeled to the right. Water poured out of the doorways and she gradually emerged and straightened up, but for a while it was the only sternwheel submarine in existence!
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